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Room Server Careers

What Does a Room Server Do

Food and beverage serving and related workers perform a variety of customer service, food preparation, and cleaning duties in restaurants, cafeterias, and other eating and drinking establishments.

Duties

Food and beverage serving and related workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and answer their questions about menu items and specials
  • Take food or drink orders from customers
  • Prepare food and drink orders, such as sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Relay customers’ orders to other kitchen staff
  • Serve food and drinks to customers at a counter, at a stand, or in a hotel room
  • Clean assigned work areas, dining tables, or serving counters
  • Replenish and stock service stations, cabinets, and tables
  • Set tables or prepare food trays for new customers

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the front line of customer service in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments. Depending on the establishment, they take customers’ food and drink orders and serve food and beverages.

Most work as part of a team, helping coworkers to improve workflow and customer service. The job titles of food and beverage serving and related workers vary with where they work and what they do.

The following are examples of types of food and beverage serving and related workers: 

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, are employed primarily by fast-food restaurants. They take food and beverage orders, prepare or retrieve items when ready, fill cups with beverages, and accept customers’ payments. They also heat food items and make salads and sandwiches.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food over a counter in snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They fill cups with coffee, soda, and other beverages, and may prepare fountain specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Counter attendants take carryout orders from diners and wrap or place items in containers. They clean counters, prepare itemized bills, and accept customers’ payments.

Food servers, nonrestaurant, serve food to customers outside of a restaurant environment. Many deliver room service meals in hotels or meals to hospital rooms. Some act as carhops, bringing orders to customers in parked cars.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers—sometimes collectively referred to as bus staff—help waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning and setting tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies. They also may help waiters and waitresses by bringing meals out of the kitchen, distributing dishes to diners, filling water glasses, and delivering condiments. Cafeteria attendants stock serving tables with food trays, dishes, and silverware. They sometimes carry trays to dining tables for customers. Bartender helpers keep bar equipment clean and glasses washed. 

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and manage reservation and waiting lists. They may direct customers to coatrooms, restrooms, or a waiting area until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses assign guests to tables suitable for the size of their group, escort patrons to their seats, and provide menus. They also take reservations over the phone, arrange parties, and help with other customers’ requests.

How To Become a Room Server

Most food and beverage service jobs are entry-level jobs and do not require a high school diploma. The majority of workers receive short-term on-the-job training.

Most states require workers, such as nonrestaurant servers, who serve alcoholic beverages to be 18 years of age or older.

Education

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a food and beverage serving worker.

Training

Most workers learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting several weeks. Training includes basic customer service, kitchen safety, safe food-handling procedures, and good sanitation habits.

Some employers, particularly those in fast-food restaurants, teach new workers with the use of self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain food preparation and service procedures. However, most food and beverage serving and related workers learn their skills by watching and working with more experienced workers.

Some full-service restaurants provide new dining room employees with classroom training sessions that alternate with periods of on-the-job work experience. The training communicates the operating philosophy of the restaurant, helps new employees establish a personal rapport with other staff, teaches employees formal serving techniques, and instills a desire in the staff to work as a team.

Some nonrestaurant servers and bartender helpers who work in establishments where alcohol is served may need training on state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some states, counties, and cities mandate such training, which typically lasts a few hours and can be taken online or in-house.

Advancement

Advancement opportunities are limited to those who remain on the job for a long time. However, some dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers may advance to waiter, waitress, or bartender positions as they learn the basics of serving food or preparing drinks.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Food and beverage serving and related workers must listen carefully to their customers’ orders and relay them correctly to the kitchen staff so that the orders are prepared to the customers’ request.

Customer-service skills. Food service establishments rely on good food and customer service to keep customers and succeed in a competitive industry. As a result, workers should be courteous and be able to attend to customers’ requests.

Physical stamina. Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of their worktime standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.

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Average Salary
$24,761
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
14%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
33,001
Job Openings

Room Server Career Paths

Top Careers Before Room Server

Server
19.2 %
Cashier
11.8 %

Top Careers After Room Server

Server
25.3 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Room Server

Room Servers in America make an average salary of $24,761 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $30,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $19,000 per year.
Average Salary
$24,761

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
San Antonio, TX
Salary Range17k - 24k$21k$21,035
Charleston, SC
Salary Range17k - 22k$20k$19,955
Aurora, CO
Salary Range16k - 23k$20k$19,538
$16k
$24k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
In Room Dining Server
In Room Dining Server
Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources
01/20/2021
01/20/2021
$27,13101/20/2021
$27,131
In-Room Dining Server
In-Room Dining Server
Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources
12/19/2020
12/19/2020
$27,13112/19/2020
$27,131
In-Room Dining Server-As Needed
In-Room Dining Server-As Needed
Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources
11/20/2020
11/20/2020
$25,46111/20/2020
$25,461
In-Room Dining Server
In-Room Dining Server
Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources
10/21/2020
10/21/2020
$25,46110/21/2020
$25,461
In-Room Dining Server-As Needed
In-Room Dining Server-As Needed
Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources
09/25/2020
09/25/2020
$25,46109/25/2020
$25,461
See More Recent Salaries

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Room Server Demographics

Gender

female

51.0 %

male

43.2 %

unknown

5.7 %

Ethnicity

White

59.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

23.5 %

Black or African American

7.6 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.8 %

French

8.8 %

Portuguese

4.4 %
See More Demographics

Room Server Education

Majors

Business
13.1 %

Degrees

Bachelors

39.8 %

High School Diploma

28.0 %

Associate

15.9 %
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Room Server

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.6% of room servers listed in-room on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and customer-service skills are important as well.

  • In-Room, 13.6%
  • Menu Items, 10.8%
  • Special Requests, 8.3%
  • Beverage Orders, 6.8%
  • Guest Rooms, 6.6%
  • Other Skills, 53.9%
  • See All Room Server Skills

Best States For a Room Server

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a room server. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, New York, Alaska, and California. Room servers make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $33,063. Whereas in New York and Alaska, they would average $31,621 and $31,061, respectively. While room servers would only make an average of $29,950 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Pennsylvania

Total Room Server Jobs:
1,640
Highest 10% Earn:
$39,000
Location Quotient:
0.99
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Room Server Jobs:
264
Highest 10% Earn:
$36,000
Location Quotient:
1.06
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Oregon

Total Room Server Jobs:
459
Highest 10% Earn:
$46,000
Location Quotient:
0.78
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Room Server Employers

1. Hyatt Hotels
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$21,369
Room Servers Hired: 
56+
2. Omni Hotels & Resorts
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$19,397
Room Servers Hired: 
24+
3. Marriott International
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$20,923
Room Servers Hired: 
19+
4. Texas Health Resources
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$25,415
Room Servers Hired: 
18+
5. Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$19,033
Room Servers Hired: 
16+
6. Holiday Inn Express
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$22,424
Room Servers Hired: 
15+